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Southeastern Plein Air Invitational

May 2, 2011

Early Friday night viewers in the Reynolds Gallery, Gadsden Museum of Art

 Visible in the photo above are only a small part of the paintings that were on display at the Artist’s Reception and Auction Preview at the end of the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational in Gadsden, Alabama.  Fifteen of us painted for five days in a variety of locations.  The average per artist was two paintings a day.  I work small, so I did a few more than that.  I believe I did a total of 17 paintings of various sizes.  Granted, I’d like to have a few of them back, but then painting on location is always going to produce a few clinkers.

Bridge, Gadsden Country Club, 8x10, Gouache

 The first day, we painted on the golf course at the Gadsden Country Club.  Each artist had his/her own golf cart for the day.

Painting a barn... photo by Kevin Keenan

On Tuesday, we went about 10 miles out in the country and painted on and around the Owen Farm.  Every curve seemed to introduce another old barn.  I went back out to this area on the Saturday after the paintout and took more reference photos.

Elaine Campbell (fifth from left in green shirt) and just a few of the volunteers

Without the volunteers, this thing would never have happened.  These people were not only amazing in their ability to take care of us, they were totally dedicated to getting the job done, and did it all with constant smiles.  The volunteers treated the artists like rock stars, and were so very much appreciated.

Courtyard Window, 10x8, Gouache

On Wednesday, we had the option to paint in the downtown part of Gadsden or two other nearby towns.  Bad weather had been forecast, but no one could have anticipated just how bad it would actually be.  After painting a downtown building in the morning from the cover of a closed store entrance, I opted to sit in the interior courtyard of the Gadsden Museum and paint this upper window and its attendant ivy.  Most of us headed for our hotels around 4 pm as TV stations began showing a major tornado heading in our general direction.    The storms that came through that evening spawned a number of tornadoes and brought devastation and tragedy to a large part of Alabama.  We were extremely fortunate to have been just outside the path of the largest tornado.

Southside Bridge, 9x12, Gouache

Thursday started as a gray, cold day.  Our subject for the day was the Coosa River.  We could paint anywhere along the river, and I arrived at the “official” starting point to find Robin Roberts already painting.  After I had looked out at this historic old bridge and commented on it for the third time while trying to decide where I was going to go, Robin finally said “Ralph, I think the bridge is calling you.”  I ended up doing the painting above, and a smaller 5×7 version of it before lunch.  I also did a little 5-10 minute sketch of Robin before we broke for lunch.

Robin, 5x7, Gouache

That afternoon, I painted in two more locations and turned out two additional paintings.

Painting on Haralson Street in the Historic District photo by Kevin Keenan

 On Friday morning, we had our choice of several streets in the Historic Residential District of Gadsden.  A special treat was that several of the homeowners provided lunch to 3 or 4 artists on their porches.  This was the house where I was scheduled to eat lunch, and when I saw the old English cottage appeal of the side entrance, I couldn’t resist it.

Residence on Haralson Street, 8x8, Gouache

After lunch, we had the option to paint anywhere in Gadsden we chose, or we could pay a $10 entrance fee and compete in a quick draw competition.  I’d never done a quick draw, and wanted to include it in the overall experience of the week, so I moved two houses down and chose this place.  A horn sounded at 1pm, and again at 3pm, giving us two hours to produce a painting.  This little painting netted me an Honorable Mention.

There is much more to tell, of course.  And, the museum had every painting photographed and will provide each artist a collection of images of their work, so there will be better photographs of the paintings.  But for now, this is at least a quick recap.  I had a great week, did a ton of painting, and made some wonderful new friends.  I also learned a little more about painting… and about myself.

It was good.

Photo by Kevin Keenan

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2011 9:01 pm

    Wow Ralph. You did some really nice work down there. Sounds like a great time. Glad you made it through the storms alright. I’ve been in Colorado for over 3 weeks now. Ready to get back to Kentucky. But having a good time painting in the high country. Congrats on your trip.

  2. Margaret Quin permalink
    May 3, 2011 9:06 pm

    You are being stretched!! I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  3. May 13, 2011 5:42 pm

    Hi, Ralph! It was a pleasure meeting you during the Plein Air invitational. It is so fun to see my town through painters’ eyes. I grew up in Southside, so I have been over that bridge countless times. And I live in the historic district. My husband and I call the red brick house you painted the “New Orleans house.”

    Did you see the photo gallery on the Times site? http://www.gadsdentimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Dato=20110427&Kategori=NEWS&Lopenr=427009997&Ref=PH&pl=1

    I quoted you in my story, too: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/article/20110427/NEWS/110429766

    Enjoyed your blog account of the week!

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